As promised I have braved the cold today to take some photos of the bare bones of my Cutting Garden. This is the first of my monthly Cutting Garden reviews which I will be posting on the last Friday of every month.
Before I start I have found myself with two copies of this lovely book – ‘The Flower Shop In Your Garden’ by Sally Page. The Flower Shop books are a lovely series about a flower shop in the Cotswolds. I have them all and so when a friend gave me a copy of this one about using flowers from your garden I decided it would make a lovely giveaway here in my Cutting Garden review.
For a chance to win the book, please leave a comment saying you would like to be included in the draw. I will put all the names in a flower pot and my son can make the draw on Monday – I will announce the winner in my ‘In A Vase On Monday’ post. I am happy to post abroad, so please do not be shy about entering.
My Cutting Garden in January is a rather wet, dank place. I tend to avoid it for most of the early winter as there is little I can do without damaging the waterlogged soil. My two dogs are always happy for a run around this area of the garden though, so let me open the gate and take you in.
This fenced area of the garden is protected from the rabbits by a double layer of chicken wire – even then there are the odd break-ins! It is known in total as the Kitchen Garden and encompasses the Cutting Garden, the Vegetable Garden and the Fruit Garden. It is divided into quarters by central paths – the main path is lined with developing espaliered apple and pear trees. One of the quarters is at present unused.
The Cutting Garden occupies one of the quarters. As we go through the gate turn immediately right and you will be in the Cutting Garden. You can see my rhubarb bed in the far corner and the developing yews that will eventually enclose this area.
The first beds that you will come across are the autumn raspberries and the strawberry bed. As soon as conditions improve this strawberry bed will be the first bed that I will be weeding – the strawberries will be protected by a net tunnel before the birds start picking at them in late spring.
The raspberry bed is looking very bare (and cold) as the autumn fruiting raspberries have already been cut back to the ground and mulched with compost. Last year I tried a system called double cropping, where I left half the plants standing for an early crop of raspberries. Whilst I had plenty of raspberries I also had raspberry beetle for the first time, which made both the summer and autumn crops inedible. I have cut everything back to the ground early hoping that the birds and the cold weather will kill off any overwintering grubs.
You can see the rhubarb is just beginning to sprout, so I must get out with some straw to fill the forcer and get it into place.
Next to the strawberries is a large square bed where I grow all my orange and dark red flowers – the peach, orange, maroon and back tulips are planted around the edges of the bed and I grow a selection of dahlias in these colours (including that beautiful Cafe Au Lait) in the centre. Between the tulips and the dahlias I am building up a collection of apricot and yellow roses. After the tulips flower I will plant hardy annuals over them, which in this bed will include english marigolds, cosmos Bright Lights, sunflowers and zinnias. I have also ordered some apricot coloured gladioli for this bed. At present you can see that I still need to cut back the dead dahlia stems (a job that should have been done in November!!). As this area of the garden is so watered logged I am not optimistic that these dahlias will survive the winter, so have ordered new tubers just in case.
Next to the raspberries you will find another large square bed, where I concentrate on purple flowers. None of these colour schemes are rigid,however, as sometimes vacant space dictates where plants will go. Again there are tulips all around the edges, but the tulips here are all white varieties as this bed is slightly shady and the white will stand better in the cooler conditions. I am collecting roses in various shades of purple/red for this bed and again the centre is planted with purple dahlias and gladioli. The annuals will include cerinthe major, blue clary, larkspur and my favourite purple asters.
Below you can see the tulips just starting to emerge.
Walking past these two large square beds we come to four narrow beds, which are used to grow rows of annuals, sweetpeas, herbs and a few perennials.
At the moment one is covered with a fleece tunnel under which rows of autumn sown ammi majus, nigella and larkspur are germinating. I should be able to thin these rows in a few weeks. This photo is slightly foggy as it was taken looking through the fleece.
The second bed has been filled with tulips and biennials (sweet williams and sweet rocket I think). I also scattered seeds of hardy annuals across this bed, but without the protection of the fleece tunnel they do not seem to have germinated.
The third of these narrow beds has some large sedums and nepeta in it – although these were initially housed temporarily they have been such a magnate for bees that I have left them for two years now. These are also underplanted with tulips. In the foreground you can see the third large square bed, which houses my collection of pink roses and perennials. One lone pink rose is claiming this to be the pink bed.
The final large square bed is devoted to white plants, although the tulips in here are pink. I need to add some white roses this spring and I will grew all my white dahlias, gladioli and annuals here. The annuals will include cosmos, ammi major, orlya, gypsophilia, snapdragons, white nigella and white larkspur. You can see that I am gradually adding a box edging around these large beds to give more formality and some evergreen colour to the beds. The wooden edging was put in last year and has helped to keep the field weeds from encroaching into the beds.
Finally in the Cutting Garden there are another two narrow beds which house my asparagus bed (below) and an assortment of perennials awaiting a new home in the second bed. Provided I have moved these perennials in time this second narrow bed is earmarked for the sweet peas. The other colour that I love is blue, but I plant my blue flowers (cornflowers, nigella, salvia patens to name a few) wherever there is space.
It has been difficult to explain the layout to you without an aerial shot, but hopefully you are getting an idea of how the garden is laid out. For next month’s review I will include my hand drawn plans, so that you can better see how the beds and paths are drawn up.
Before we leave the garden we must walk across the main path into the quarter devoted primarily to vegetables. Here there are two narrow beds running alongside the main path across the vegetable garden, which house my growing peony collection. I will leave the brown stems standing until I have weeded and mulched this bed in late February, to make sure that I do not do any damage to the emerging pink buds.
I have included this final picture of the ground today so that you can see how wet it is – today is actually a good day as the water is not sitting above the level of the grass as it often does at this time of year.
I hope you have enjoyed our walk around this rather sad January Cutting Garden. Things will only get better from here and next month I will write more about what hardy annuals I am sowing, as well as showing you any developments in the beds (assuming we do not have a month of snow ahead, in which case changes will be minimal). I would love to hear about your Cutting Garden plans for this year and if anyone would like to join me with a monthly review do add a link to your blog post in the comments so that we can all have a look.
Please do remember to leave a comment if you would like to be entered into the draw for the book ‘The Flower Shop In Your Garden’ – this lovely book will certainly inspire you to start thinking about what blooms you could be growing in your own garden! The winner will be announced on Monday.